EPA Scrapping Four-Gallon Minimum on E15 Fill-Ups

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I have to admit, the whole E15 controversy that has been brewing between the EPA and AMA has me a bit confused. Namely, I do not know how the EPA ever thought that a four-gallon minimum purchase requirement solved anything for powersport users who were concerned about putting E15 in the tanks of their motorcycles and ATVs.

Realizing that a solution to the actual problem had to be devised, the EPA has now dropped the four-gallon minimum on fuel pumps that dispense E10 and E15 from the same pump, and instead the government body says it will likely require gas stations to label shared pumps, as well as offer a dedicated E10 pump/hose for vehicles.

For those not familiar with the issue, the EPA is pushing the use of E15 (fuel comprised of 15% ethanol) on standard gasoline pumps. With most motorcycles and ATVs not rated to use E15 (thus voiding the vehicles warranty on fuel-related issues if E15 is used), the AMA and other automotive groups have pushed back on the EPA’s movement to the blended fuel.

The whole E15 debate not withstanding, one of the issues in the controversy was fuel pumps that had a single nozzle. Conceivably, a motorist buying E10 fuel could get a dose of residual E15 fuel during their sale, if the customer before them filled up with E15 at that same pump.

For car and truck drivers, this is less of an issue, since the minimal amount of E15 would be diluted with a tank primarily comprised of E10 fuel. However, motorcyclists and ATV owners, with their smaller fuel tanks, would not have as great of a dilution effect.

Imposing a four-gallon minimum pump amount, the EPA successfully insured that any multi-fuel dispenser would adequately sell enough E10 to counteract any residual E15, however failed to realize that for motorcycles and ATVs, a four gallon fill-up isn’t always practical, let alone even possible on some models.

It is beyond us here at Asphalt & Rubber why this issue existed in the first place, since it seems like a fairly obvious problem to see coming down the pipe, but yet here we are with its happy resolution. A press release from the AMA is below.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may no longer require minimum gas purchase at certain pumps

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is apparently scrapping its requirement that all consumers buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain gas pumps that dispense the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

The EPA first revealed its minimum-purchase requirement to the AMA in a letter dated Aug. 1, responding to AMA concerns that E15 — a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume — could be put in motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle gas tanks inadvertently when consumers used blender pumps. A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose, and the vast majority of motorcycles and ATVs in use today aren’t designed to operate on E15 fuel.

The EPA had said that the minimum purchase requirement was meant to dilute any residual E15 fuel left in the hose.

On Dec. 17, in response to ongoing AMA concerns, the EPA indicated to the AMA that it would no longer require a minimum purchase of four gallons. Instead, the EPA will now likely require a label on blender pumps that dispense E10 and E15 through the same hose that state the pump is solely for passenger cars and trucks.

In addition, the EPA indicated it will require stations that sell E15 to also have a pump with a dedicated E10 hose for use by motorcycles and other vehicles the EPA hasn’t approved for E15 use.

“With E15 gasoline, our members who make a concerted effort to fuel their motorcycles or ATVs with E10-or-less gasoline may be unknowingly refueling with residual fuel left in the hose,” Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, had said to the EPA before the agency’s Dec. 17 comments.

“Unlike an automobile or SUV that has a large fuel tank, the residual fuel left in a fueling hose could be detrimental to the performance of motorcycle or ATV engines due to the small size of their fuel tanks and the higher concentration of ethanol that would, therefore, be present in the fuel,” Allard had said. “In addition, the use of E15 will lower fuel efficiency and possibly cause premature engine failure. Use of E15 fuel voids many manufacturer warranties. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users.”

The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available, and has asked that motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15.

Ethanol is essentially grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn that is mixed with gasoline to produce an ethanol-gasoline blend motor fuel. In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-06 light-duty vehicles to the approved list.

No motorcycles or ATVs are currently on the list.

Source: AMA